Jogging app Strava reveals highly sensitive information about USA soldiers' location

29 January, 2018, 11:07 | Author: Juana Mckenzie
  • Image Strava

An interactive map found online can show the locations and activities of people who use fitness devices such as Fitbit, raising security concerns about soldiers and other people who are at us military bases in sensitive areas. Users connect a Global Positioning System device to its service that allows them to upload their workout logs online. In November, the company released a series of online data visualisation maps which showed all the activity tracked by users of its app between 2015 and September 2017.

Swaths of the United States and Europe show up as a blaze of colour, indicating the millions of users.

"They probably should have had the foresight to look at the map before they released it, but the app has a policy where you can opt out of data sharing, and that hasn't been done by the soldiers", he said.

The problem is, some of it could be rather sensitive information.

Nathan Ruser, an Australian university student who first highlighted the issue, said he came across the map while browsing a cartography blog last week.

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"If soldiers use the app like normal people do, by turning it on tracking when they go to do exercise, it could be especially risky".

One map appeared to show China had deployed soldiers in one of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Joining the online chorus was former British Army officer Nick Waters who tweeted: "Patrol routes, isolated patrol bases, lots of stuff that could be turned into actionable intelligence".

However, other observers of the public data found foreign military were the only users of apps like Strava in countries like Afghanistan, Syria, and Djibouti.

The ADF was approached for comment and the USA military was looking into the matter. This is bad news for security, as it establishes reliable "pattern of life" information that would otherwise be unavailable to the rest of the world. USA bases are clearly identifiable and mappable, ' he said on Twitter.

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Pine Gap's location 20km from Alice Springs was chosen so it would be out of the range of spy ships lurking in worldwide waters off the coast of Australia.

Multiple news outlets reported that the map, which was posted online late a year ago, received widespread attention after a Twitter user pointed out it could contain potentially sensitive information. At the time of publication it had yet to offer comment.

Air Force Colonel John Thomas, a spokesman for US Central Command, told the Washington Post that the US military was reviewing the implications.

In Australia, the map shows movements taking place around known military installations such as the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap in the Northern Territory.

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